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Tesla solar panels and Powerwall battery are a bundle now — what that means for you

tesla powerwall
(Image credit: Tesla)

Tesla has been offering home solar panels and Powerwall batteries for years, but as of next week they won’t be available separately.

Elon Musk made this announcement on Twitter (as he often does), confirming that the two products will only be sold as an “integrated product.” In other words if you want solar panels, you’re going to have to find the money for a battery as well.

According to Elektrek, Tesla has already stopped selling its solar panels and solar roof tiles without the purchase of a Powerwall. Meanwhile the Tesla solar configuration page warns that Powerwall is not available without a solar panel product.

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There are a few ways to look at this news. The first is that forcing customers to add in a battery pack is going to have a big impact on the cost of installing home solar panels. Solar panels themselves have seen massive price reductions over the years, but batteries are still pretty expensive things. 

Especially ones as large as Tesla’s Powerwall, which has a usable capacity of 13.5kWh and currently cost $7,500 each. That’s not including the cost of installation or the Gateway.

tesla solar powerwall installation quote

(Image credit: Tesla/Tom's Guide)

But at the same time there are plenty of advantages to having a battery pack connected to your solar array. For starters it means you can store your own energy during the day, and reuse it later. It’s free power, basically, which would normally go to waste if you automatically pump it back into the grid — even if your energy provider does pay you a small sum for it.

Similarly the battery essentially becomes a backup power supply for your home, should you ever lose mains power. Tesla claims that the Powerwall can offer up to 12 hours of backup power, which can be extended when connected to solar panels. How long depends on your generation capacity, and the current weather, naturally.

Musk went on to tweet that new installations will position the Powerwall between the solar panels and the house’s electric meter and breaker panel. So you can be safe in the knowledge that any solar energy you create will go to the battery first, and won’t end up routed out to the grid where you can’t use it.

Existing Powerwall owners will also be getting a free software update later this month, which will unlock better capabilities for your battery pack.

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So if you had plans to get a Tesla solar system installed, you’re going to need to account for the extra cost. That’s assuming you were able to get one in the first place. Apparently Powerwalls are the most popular kind of home batteries, to the point where Tesla has been struggling to keep up with demand.

It’s not clear whether the new mandate will affect that in any way, but we have our doubts. Solar panels and a home battery are a perfect pair, and it doesn’t make much sense to have one without the other. Assuming, of course, you have the money or credit to pay for them.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.